This week Scriptor Corruptus sits down with Canadian born, Houston based author Jae Mazer. She is the author of seven novels, one short story collection, and her work has appeared in multiple other anthologies. Also included is her short story, Lucky #48, which is featured in her latest release, short story collection Beautiful Beasts. Check her out!
SC: What was the first horror book you remember reading? What kind of influence did it have on you?
JM: Damn it, Des! This question is hard!!! Ugh… Watchers by Dean Koontz, maybe? I read the Phantom of the Opera by Gaston Leroux when I was very young, and found it was a beautiful kind of horror. Something Wicked This Way Comes by Ray Bradbury and Swan Song by Robert McCammon were early reads, and stand the test of time as favorites. Again, Damn it Des! I could list books all day long. Common theme? I found a beautiful terror and sadness in all those books that drew me to the genre. And I’ve never looked back…
SC: Tell us about your most recent book, Beautiful Beasts!
JM: It’s a book. It’s made of paper. Also, it has words.
SC: What publishing house do you go through, and are they accepting submissions from new authors?
JM: My publisher is Netherworld books in the UK, and sadly, they are not taking new submissions, solicited or otherwise. They have a core of authors, and they are sticking with that for now. My latest two novels, however, were published under my own imprint: Feathered Tentacle Press. I’m giving this whole publishing biz thing a shot…
SC: One of your books, Notch, is written under a pseudonym. Do you regret that choice?
JM: I don’t. It’s straight up Horrotica. I want to shelter my other books from that debauchery. People know it’s me, I just wanted a line in the sand between the genres I represent.
SC: What are some common traps aspiring writers fall in? Any advice on avoiding those?
JM: Listening to motherfuckers is a trap. Advice? Don’t listen to motherfuckers. Seriously though… the problem is not necessarily listening to the advice that people give, it’s treating it as gospel. No one has the magic answers to the puzzles of writing. What works for one person might not work for another. What any writer should do is gather as much information as possible, and determine what to use and what not to use; you have to be able to critically evaluate the information you receive. Read lots and lots of books. Go to critique groups, listen to what they say and consider their suggestions. Talk to a multitude of professionals and amateurs in the field about their experiences. Always, always learn. There’s not just one way, and no right way, but you can glean pointers and direction from those who have walked the paths.
SC: If you could tell the younger writer version of yourself anything, what would it be?
JM: Are you a sheep? No. You’re a dragon. Be a dragon.
SC: What did you do with your first earnings from your first book?
JM: Got a tattoo representing my first book!
SC: Who do you consider to be the most underappreciated authors?
JM: Anya Ahlborn and Nick Cutter. Although they are bestsellers, they deserve a LOT more attention. They write horror at its finest and most artistic. Anya deserves to be up on the throne of horror, which is presently occupied by the ol’ boys club of standard horror fare. I believe she’ll be the one to break that trend.
SC: Is there a thought process to naming your characters, or do you just use random names?
JM: Oh, my names are never random. They are always concocted from actual historical names having to do with the subject matter I write about. They are often a clever mashup of two or three events or people, but always have some significance.
SC: Create your ideal place to write.
JM: Fantasy world? The woods, alone. Preferably a cabin with a woodstove, and a thunderstorm rumbling in the distance. It would be night, and I would have an unlimited supply of Cab Sav and coffee. In reality? Denny’s with Jess Raney. Always.
SC: Final words:
JM: Tu le onske…
As promised, the following is the short story “Lucky #48” from the collection Beautiful Beasts.
By Jae Mazer
“Oh my word!”
Muriel clasped her chest, her face aching from the stretch of her sudden, surprised smile. The announcement choked from tinny speakers, reverberating off the booths and masses of people.
“Again, the winner is lucky number 48! C’mon down to the stage and claim your prize!”
Muriel lifted her tray again. The number 48 was there, all right, crudely scripted in red marker. Others around her in the food court were eating and mumbling to each other, indifferent to her luck.
Bloody fools, she thought, clucking her dry tongue. “These swine wouldn’t know class and winning if it struck them square in their inbred noses.”
She set her tray down and shifted the plate of chicken fingers to the table, next to her boat of ranch. A few grunts and heaves later, she was out of her chair and comfortably seated on her Rascal, tray in hand.
“Stanley! Isn’t this grand?”
Stanley continued eating his turkey leg, taking no notice of her glee.
“Ingrate,” she snarled, adjusting her pearl necklace. “I’m tickled a fine shade of pink, thank you very much.”
The Rascal whirred down the aisle toward the back of the arena where the announcer sat perched on the stage. Muriel passed booths with vendors pedaling long-lasting lip stain, homemade candles smelling of soft baked goods, and silver jewelry that caught the gleam of the spastic fluorescent lighting with glittering fervor. Muriel turned her nose up at the cheap baubles and trinkets, keeping one hand on her winning tray lest someone snatch her deserved prize.
Muriel beamed with callous pride, flashing the bottom of the winning tray at vendors as she passed. She teased her silver, perfectly permed hair with the tips of her manicured fingers.
No one smiled. No one acknowledged her win or her glee.
“Sour bunch, the lot of you,” Muriel mumbled under her breath.
The air became warm and stagnant. Muriel swiped a hand across her forehead, beads of sweat smearing across her sagging skin.
“I’m positivity melting.”
She looked at the vendors. They weren’t smiling. They were scowling. Angry. Hateful. Some bared their teeth as she passed, others cussed at her in venomous whispers.
“Well I never!”
Muriel pushed on the throttle, willing the Rascal to go faster than it could. She was sweating profusely now, the armpits and thighs of her emerald velour track suit soaked with sweat. The smell of scented candles was far behind her, replaced by a bouquet of burnt hair and rotting meat. She gagged, her gorge bubbling acid and panic.
“What in the world—”
Now the vendors were smiling. Amused. Teeth sharp and elongated, blood dripping from cracked lips, mouths stretched and torn from ear to ear. Muriel’s heart beat a forceful staccato against her rib cage, her pulse cymbals smashing inside her head.
The Rascal would go no faster. She abandoned it, grunts leaking out of her as she bore her own weight. The beasts mocked her, grunting and groaning, mimicking her strain.
“Sweet baby Jesus,” she mewled as she hurried away, pushing towards the stage as fast as her jiggling legs would carry her.
The vendors screamed, cawing like rabid banshees. They were hideous beasts with exposed ribcages and contorted spines, talons, and long, black tongues inserted in orifices both high and low. A salesman at a booth selling pots and pans was elbow deep in his own abdomen, ripping out his intestines and coiling them on the table. He saw her and giggled, bubbles of blood-tinged spittle dribbling off his cankered lips.
Muriel knew she was screaming. She could feel her stomach muscles straining and hot air moving across her tongue. Her voice, however, was drowned out by braying and profanity, violence and exuberant bloody coitus escalating all around her. Even the other attendees were tainted, rolling around on the floor at her feet, bones shattered and exposed, grabbing ahold of each other and eating the flesh off each others bones.
A young couple, no eyes in their sockets and flesh marred by deep talon gouges, were fornicating on the ground across the aisle. Muriel was too focused on the surrounding horror to notice the gore beneath. She tripped on the girl’s legs and came crashing to the floor in a puddle of blood and human meat. She flailed, smearing blood angels on the concrete floor as ghouls and demons ripped and shredded her clothing until she was exposed and vulnerable.
She looked up for help, for understanding, for anything.
She found him, perched upon the stage, on a rotting throne made of bones and teeth bound together with strips of flesh and braids of hair.
“Welcome, lucky number 48! You are quite the lucky lady today!”
He was large, at least three meters tall, with rippling muscles on every inch of his gleaming crimson body. The horns on his head were coiled, tips gored into the sides of his head and exiting through his eyes. His tongue licked out like a serpent, black and thick and meaty, toying with the obsidian shaft between his legs.
“Congratulations on your win, Muriel,” he said, in a chorus of tones, guttural words from the pit of his stomach.
Muriel wanted to run, to scream for help, to leave that trade show, never to return again. She was better than this. Than all of this.
She looked behind, way behind, to the place she had started her journey. Through a sea of writhing and gyrating monsters and a bath of blood and pain, she saw Stanley, screaming and sobbing.
And herself, splayed out on the floor, eyes wide and still. The trade show paramedics were pumping away on her chest and blasting breath into her mouth, but it was too late.
Muriel looked at the tray in her hands. That lucky number 48 stared back at her, a wolf in sheep’s clothing.
You can find Jae Mazer at:
IG: Jae Mazer
Facebook: The Feathered Tentacle (group) AND Jae Mazer Author (page)